From Babulal Likhure
Ahmedabad : Despite the BJP’s tall claims about coming to power at the Centre and installing L.K.Advani as its Prime Minister, the just concluded election for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat have exposed many chinks in the party’s shining armour of ‘morality’ and ‘principles’.
The BJP, which for long marketed itself as the party with a difference, this time stood exposed right from the stage of choosing its candidates for the 26 seats in Gujarat.
Foregoing all its acclaimed inhibitions, the BJP happily gave party nominations not only to three bank fraud accused in Panchmahal, Anand and Navsari but also to as many as three turncoats from its arch rival Congress in Patan, Dahod and Surendranagar.
While the bank scamsters Prabhatsinh Chauhan (Panchmahal), Deepak Saathi (Anand) and C.R.Patil (Navsari) were long time BJP leaders in their own territories, the party could not find any one from its rank and file for constituencies like Patan, Dahod and Surendranagar where the electorate’s caste arithmetic required a backward Thakore, a tribal and a Koli to be chosen.
This compulsion of having to fall back upon defectors from Congress in the tribal and backward dominated seats while finding it easy to choose a new face in urban areas proves the oft-repeated perception that the BJP is indeed a party of urban and upper classes.
When it came to choosing new candidates for the tribal seat of Dahod and the backward dominated seats of Surendranagar and Patan, there were no suitable people available from among the BJP’s rank and file and thus Congress defectors with dubious track records had to be chosen as nominees of the party with ‘principles’.
But the same BJP did not feel any problem of dearth of people from its ranks while searching for replacements in urban, middle class seats like Rajkot, Surat, Panchmahal and Navsari where alternative people were readily available.
This dichotomy of enjoying easy availability of second line leadership in urban, middle class areas but dearth of such people from among its ranks in backward dominated and tribal areas is almost an incontrovertible proof of the BJP’s class and caste bias.
The BJP’s compulsions to give party tickets to tainted leaders and turncoats stemmed from Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s insistence on new faces, a euphemism for proven psychophants who would remain ever obliged to him for having sent them to Lok Sabha.
While choosing the candidates for Gujarat’s 26 seats, the BJP high command actually succumbed to the high-handedness of its rabble-rousing Chief Minister Narendra Modi who was also keen to settle his scores with the party’s senior MPs who had raised their voices against his autocratic style of functioning.
Thus, in its bid to satisfy the whims of Modi, the BJP dropped former Union Ministers Kashiram Rana and Dr Vallabh Kathiria in Surat and Rajkot respectively, even if that meant fielding political novices for the two seats reputed to be the party’s fortresses for two decades.
Naturally, both the seats proved to be death traps for the BJP’s new candidates as the party’s rank and file virtually revolted in Surat and Rajkot.
While the new BJP nominee Darshana Zardosh in Surat faced the wrath of laid off diamond workers for whom Modi refused to announce any relief package, the BJP workers in Rajkot remained in mutiny mood with allegations making the rounds that the new nominee Kiran Patel procured the party ticket through his money power generated from the chain of schools his family runs in the city.
Surat and Rajkot are not the only trouble-spots for the BJP as its fortress in Gandhinagar, from where its “Prime Minister” in waiting is seeking re-election, is also under siege with a massive consolidation of Patel backlash personified in the Congress nominee Suresh Patel.
As the influential Patels are cut up with the BJP ever since their patriarch Keshubhai Patel was unseated as Chief Minister by Modi, the Congress sought to cash in on the situation arising out of the delimitation exercise making the Lok Sabha constituency a Patel dominated seat.
Even as Congress nominee went about transforming Patel resentment against BJP into votes for himself, Advani’s trouble multiplied with the VHP cadres refusing to campaign in his favour in protest against the demolition of illegally built temples in Gandhinagar last year.
Though the VHP declared its last minute support to Advani, the cadres were not amused and remained away from working for the party. The vacuum caused by the VHP cadres staying away was probably filled by the “Mantranaad” programmes organized all over the state by the Art of Living wherein people were clearly asked to vote for the party which would “bring black money back from foreign banks”.
The Election Commission had rightly called the bluff of the Art of Living programmes and slapped notices on them for violation of Model Code of Conduct. In some places, the EC has told the BJP candidates who shared the dais at “Mantranaad” discourses that the function’s expenditures would be added to their election expenses account.
Moreover, the Supreme Court’s ruling to start investigation into the role of Modi in the 2002 anti-Muslim riots also could not be turned into BJP’s advantage as the Chief Minister got only a day to launch his tirade against the Centre. All that Modi could do was to try and fool his audience by declaring that he is ready to be hanged, not just jailed.
Eom, Babulal Likhure, Ahmedabad, 19-30, May 5, 2009